Kanchen View Estate: Agitating workers to join work from today

darjeeling: A meeting chaired by the Darjeeling District Magistrate amicably resolved the ongoing impasse of Kanchen View (Rangneet) tea estate. The agitating workers will be joining work at the tea estate from Thursday.

Incidentally, the garden located on the fringes of the Darjeeling town had been facing a lockout since October 6, 2021. After tripartite talks between operating trade unions, management and the Additional Labour Commissioner, North Bengal the garden reopened on April 15 amid an agitation and relay hunger strike by majority of the workforce with a 9 point charter of demands.

The hunger strike was lifted on Monday after assurances from the District Magistrate to address grievances of the agitating workers. On Wednesday, a meeting was held between the operating tea unions; Rungneet Gaon Sudhar Sammelan (community association;) Management; district administration and the Labour department at the District Collectorate in Darjeeling.

"We are happy with the outcome of the meeting. Our 9 point charter of demands was not recorded in the meeting on April 6 in Siliguri hence we had launched an agitation. In today's meeting the demands have been recorded and will be addressed. All workers will join work from Thursday," stated Jiten Rai, Secretary of the Rangneet Gaon Sudhar Sammelan.The agitators were apprehensive that the Management had been using more than the stipulated 15 per cent of vacant land (as allowed by the State Government) for the tea tourism project and had also claimed that tea bushes were being uprooted for the project.

"Demarcation and land measurement is being conducted by the Land Reforms department so that project does not use more than the stipulated amount of vacant land. This was one of our main demands. The DM has also instructed the Labour Department to address the issue of gratuity and other benefit defaults immediately. We will be submitting all the collected data in this regard at the Labour office from Thursday," added Rai. As some of the old roads built by the British will become non-functional owing to the upcoming tea tourism project, the DM has directed the Management to build alternative feasible roads in consultation with the residents and workers.

"They have to agree on the new layout as they will be using these roads. Local interests should not be hampered by the upcoming project, the DM has clearly instructed," stated Rai.

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